Saturday, 19 July 2008


One of them is an icon of the twentieth century media, and the other a poster child of the new social media elite. Can you compare businesses as different as the NY Times and Digg? Are they even in the same business?

The claims to be the #1 reaching newspaper site on the Web - its overwhelmingly Editor controlled. Conversely, Digg defines itself as "a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web. From the biggest online destinations to the most obscure blog, Digg surfaces the best stuff as voted on by our users. You won’t find editors at Digg — we’re here to provide a place where people can collectively determine the value of content and we’re changing the way people consume information online."

According to the Alexa chart above the fight is being won by the NYTimes, but its a close won fight. Digg and the social media revolution is following very closely behind.

Alexa tracks using its downloadable toolbar, which means it gets its data from a panel of people. This means they are of a particular profile, and thus not necessarily representative of the whole web. Other people get to this content in different ways. Using Google Trends For Websites we see in the chart below that the NY Times is way ahead amongst people who type the URL into the Google search box as well.

What is perhaps more dangerous for the NY Times is the sites its visitors are also visiting such as Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and others. In the past, most people only read one paper, that was enough. So are these other sites complements or potential threats? The NY Times wins for now, but for how much longer?

Equally for Digg, there could be trouble ahead as the following Wikipedia quote questions their anti-editor stance, when a few in the community turn themselves into Editors showing not all anaimals are equal on the farm (a problem Wikipedia itself suffers from):

It has been reported that the top 100 Digg users controlled 56% of Digg's frontpage content, and that a niche group of just twenty individuals had submitted 25% of the frontpage content. A few sites have raised the problem of groupthink and the possibility that the site is being "manipulated", so to speak. In response to this question, the site's founder Kevin Rose has announced an upcoming change to the site's algorithm.


Anonymous said...

Alexa Internet, is a California-based subsidiary company of that is best known for operating a website that provides information on the web traffic to other websites.
Alexa collects information from users who have installed an “Alexa Toolbar,” allowing them to provide statistics on web site traffic, as well as lists of related links. It uses these data to form Alexa ranking. There is some controversy over how representative Alexa’s user base is of typical Internet behavior. If Alexa’s user base is a fair statistical sample of the internet user population, Alexa’s ranking should be quite accurate. A known source of bias is the self-selecting, opt-in nature of Alexa traffic tracking software installation, but the significance of this bias on rankings is not reported. Alexa ranking measures traffic ranking collected from Alexa toolbar users. High alexa ranking has no relationship with high google ranking, yahoo ranking, and etc.
Ranking in Alexa is significant as it can significantly increase your bargaining power when it comes to selling advertising on your site. If advertisers see that your site has a higher ranking, they are likely to think that they can sell more of their products and services by having a link on your site. This means that you can charge them higher fees for that link.

Tony Effik said...

I agree with you about the power of Alexa, but I also see the biases, which is why I think it's worth using more than one source. The whole area of measurement and ranking is getting increasingly complex and confusing on the web, and I imagine it will stay that way for some time. What should an advertiser do?

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